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Lots of sites highlight the most popular new year greetings in Mandarin. What are the most popular ones for Cantonese, ideally categorized by usage (e.g., family, business, health, kids, parents, seniors)?

What are the most popular ones for the year of the sheep/ram/goat?

  • As a kid I would say, "恭喜發財,利是𢭃來". ;) – user102008 Feb 21 '15 at 0:36
  • @user102008 I think you have a typo there (reveal the quotations in the "Mandarin" part of the linked page). Jyutping: Gung1-hei2 faat3-coi4, lai6-si6 dau6 loi4. – MickG Feb 21 '15 at 9:29
  • Ah alternate form, sorry :). Still, good to know. – MickG Feb 21 '15 at 9:31
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A few suggestions for you:

恭喜發財 gung1 hei2 faat3 choi4 新年快樂 san1 nin4 faai3 lok6

-- All purpose happy new year.

身體健康 san1 tai2 gin6 hong1 龍馬精神 lung4 ma2 jing1 san4

-- Mostly for older people (and health-conscious people), wishing them good health.

快高長大 faai3 gou1 jeung2 daai6 學業進步 hok6 yip6 jeun3 bou6

-- For children and students respectively, wishing them grow tall quickly, and make good progress in school.

步步高升 bou6 bou6 gou1 sing1

-- Suitable for working people, business associates, etc., wishing them advancement in their career.

喜氣洋洋 hei2 hei3 yeung4 yeung4

-- Also a general purpose wish for happiness. Since this is the year of the sheep, some people choose this one because of the 洋洋, a play on the word 羊 "sheep".

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In Hong Kong, the two most popular greetings in Cantonese are

  1. 恭喜發財
  2. 新年快樂

I am not sure about other Cantonese-speaking areas.

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Cantonese and Chinese new year greetings are actually written the same. The only difference is about the accent. Here are some of the most popular new year greetings. 心想事成 (xīn xiǎnɡ shì chénɡ) - Whatever you dream of comes true. 万事如意 (wàn shì rú yì) - Everything goes your way. 六六大顺 (liù liù dà shùn) - Everything goes smoothly. 年年有余 (nián nián yǒu yú) - May there be surpluses every year.

Chinese New Year Greetings for Wealth 恭喜发财 (ɡōnɡ xǐ fā cái) - May you be happy and prosperous. 财源广进 (cái yuán ɡuǎnɡ jìn) – Money and treasure comes to you from multiple directions.

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Here are some ways to say happy new year (in Mandarin and Cantonese):

新年快乐 / 新年快樂 Happy New Year in Chinese

'New Year happiness!'

In Mandarin: Xīnnián kuàilè /sshin-nyen kwhy-ler/ In Cantonese: San1-nin4 faai3-lok6 /sen-nin feye-lor/


新年好 / 新年好

'New Year goodness!' (like "Good day.")

In Mandarin: Xīnnián hǎo /sshin-nyen haoww/ In Cantonese: San1-nin4 hou2 /sen-nin haow/


过年好 / 過年好

'Pass the New Year well!'

In Mandarin: Guònián hǎo /gwor-nyen haoww/ In Cantonese: Gwo3-nin4 hou2 /gwor-nin haow/


Here are some new year greetings (in Mandarin and Cantonese):

  1. 恭喜发财 / 恭喜發財

'Happiness and prosperity!'

In Mandarin: Gōngxǐ fācái /gong-sshee faa-tseye/ In Cantonese: Gung1-hei2 faat3-coi4 (Kunghei fatchoy) /gong-hey faa-chwhy/


  1. 步步高升 / 步步高陞

'step-by-step high promotion' — A steady rise to high places! — "on the up and up"

In Mandarin: Bùbù gāoshēng /boo-boo gaoww-shnng / In Cantonese: Bou6-bou6 gou1-sing1 /boh-boh goh-sshin /

I have to admit that I didn't find many either.

  • What Romanization are you using here? Among other things, the Cantonese is missing all the clipped tones (入聲). – monalisa Feb 20 '15 at 1:09
  • May I suggest taking those greetings, plugging them into the MDBG dictionary and retrieving their Jyutping Romanisation? :) – MickG Feb 20 '15 at 12:44
  • More precisely, here is the Jyutping (click on the characters and open the drop-downs with the Jyutping), and this should solve the sole tone ambiguity. – MickG Feb 20 '15 at 12:48
  • Leaving the comments above for future reference (i.e. in case someone who doesn't know about this IMHO very useful tool stumbles upon this question) and editing the answer to include the Jyutping. – MickG Feb 20 '15 at 12:51
  • @MickG I wasn't talking about the missing tone marks. The clipped tone (-p, -t, -k ending sound) is essential in Cantonese. The OP's Romanization seems to be missing them, so I seriously doubt the accuracy of the Romanized Cantonese. – monalisa Feb 20 '15 at 16:54
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A note of context: 恭喜發財 (gung1 hei2 faat3 coi4) actually means "congratulations on making money". This probably has connections to Guangdong's commercial past, where many people work in trade and business.

This would be generally fine, but could be slightly awkward if the other party is e.g. a governmental official (this might be taken as mildly suggestive of corruption), so people (esp. in Hong Kong, where people generally take corruption rather seriously) sometimes consciously avoid 恭喜發財 when the other party is in a position like this.

新年快樂 (san1 nin4 faai3 lok6) has no such connotation is always fine, of course.

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